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Cambodia rejects new Thai protest


April 13, 2008

Cambodia rejects new Thai protest

Cambodian government officials have denied claims by Thailand that Cambodian troops have massed on the Thai border near Preah Vihear temple, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported Saturday.

"Cambodia strongly denies that there has been any deployment of army and police in the area though there may be security guards protecting Preah Vihear temple and tourists," Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary of State Ouch Borith said at a news conference here on Friday.

At the same press conference, Var Kim Hong, Cambodia's senior government advisor on border issues, said the Preah Vihear border had been in place since the colonial era.

Thai English-language dailies - the Nation and the Bangkok Post – had reported Friday that Cambodian Ambassador Ung Sean had been summoned to the Thai Foreign Ministry and told that the supposed troop build up violated a 2000 agreement not to modify a 4.6-square-kilometer disputed zone near the temple.

"This time we summoned the Cambodian ambassador to protest against them sending in troops and police and clearing landmines in the overlapping area in Thailand's Si Sa Ket province," the Thai Foreign Ministry's treaties and legal affairs department chief Virachai Plasai was quoted as saying in the Bangkok Post.

Thailand's protest to the ambassador is the latest flare-up in long-standing dispute over the temple and surrounding territory, which has intensified since Cambodia sought to have the temple listed as a UN World Heritage Site last year, the Cambodia Daily said.

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